Former chief minister Arjun Munda with newly elected BJP president Ravindra Rai and his predecessor Dineshanand Goswami in Ranchi on Saturday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, March 16: Newly appointed state BJP president Ravindra Rai today took charge at the party headquarters on Harmu Road amid the glaring absence of a section of senior leaders who are opposed to him.
Before taking over, Rai paid floral tributes to the statues of party founder Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Birsa Munda.
“BJP is the party of the aam admi. The common man’s problem and challenges in the state are also the problems and challenges of our party. I am going to address all these problems,” an elated Rai told newsmen later.
Rai, a close aide of former chief minister Arjun Munda, was declared BJP president in Jharkhand amid high drama that saw the latter’s resignation from the post of the legislature party chief in the state Assembly.
However, the elevation of Rai, who had once defected to the Babulal Marandi-led JVM before returning to the BJP fold, was said to have had discomfited senior leaders such as Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha, Raghubar Das and Saryu Roy.
Rai had also tried to appease them by calling on each.
Das, who too happens to be a former state BJP chief, and Roy did not show up today. Apart from Munda, BJP’s state in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan, parliamentarians P.N. Singh and Sudershan Bhagat, and legislators Vimla Pradahan, Menka Sardar, Barkunwar Gagrai, Kamlesh Oraon, Laxman Gilua and Satyanand Jha also attended the function.
“Respecting democratic traditions, we had formed the coalition government with the help of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Ajsu. However, I did not compromise with my values and the government fell. Now, there is no alternative other than a new public mandate,” Munda said.
As possibilities of forming an alternative government appear bleak and with Union minister P. Chidambaram suggesting in the Lok Sabha yesterday that Assembly by-elections were soon likely, Rai now faces the onerous task of leading the party at the hustings.
Asked why he did not attend the function, Das said he had prior engagements elsewhere. Although just about a 1,000 party members including the MLAs and parliamentarians turned up, Rai put up a brave front, claiming he had the co-operation of the rank and file of the organisation.
“We are together and we will be together in future,” said Rai, in reply to a query on the possibility of dissent within the party.